A new swimming pool in Hoogeveen will cost at least 32.5 million euros. ‘It’s now really a matter of mopping with the tap open’

The call for a new swimming pool has been heard in Hoogeveen for years. In 2019, the combination with an artificial ice rink was canceled. Waiting longer does not make the plan cheaper. It already has a price tag of 32.5 million euros.

In September of this year, the municipal council was updated about the future of the swimming pool in Hoogeveen. The parties then received information about the current figures and costs of the current De Dolfijn swimming pool and a glimpse into the operation of a new swimming pool.

That information – in the hands of this newspaper – shows that a new swimming pool will cost at least 32.5 million euros (price level January 2023). Three years ago its construction was still estimated at 15 to 20 million euros. That was in combination with an artificial ice rink.

Opened in 1969

De Dolfijn was opened in 1969 and expanded over time. The swimming pool was extensively renovated in 1999, followed in 2020 by major maintenance, which should ensure that the facility can continue to operate safely and responsibly for at least five years.

The failure of the equally ambitious and prestigious swimming pool/ice rink plan in 2019 also made the latter necessary. A big blow to the municipality, but also a major disappointment for swimmers, clubs and visitors to De Dolfijn.

In the meantime, time is ticking and costs are not getting lower. “Every year that we wait longer for a new swimming pool, we unnecessarily waste a lot of money,” notes PvdA faction leader Stan van Eck. He points out, among other things, concrete rot.

‘Mopping with the tap open’

Annual maintenance costs and operating deficits continue to rise. “The risk of unforeseen maintenance expenses and possible closure for the longer term is increasing. It is now really a matter of mopping with the tap open,” says Van Eck.

At the bottom line, a deficit of more than 1.3 million euros remained for 2022. The number of visitors amounted to 121,491. To illustrate: in 2019 (before corona) there were almost 149,000. A decrease can be seen across almost the entire line (recreators, associations, target groups and schools).

The municipality spent approximately 11 euros per visitor in 2022. The personnel costs appear to be relatively high: 1.2 million euros. That is more than 70 percent of the total costs. The percentage covered by the proceeds is low: about 34 percent in Hoogeveen compared to 60 to 80 percent elsewhere in the country.

Limited playing options

The declining visitor numbers are mainly attributed to the limited functionality of the current swimming pool. Too few square meters of swimming water, limited recreational play opportunities, the lack of a movable floor or ramp and limitations of the catering industry and other areas.

Furthermore, the competition pool has a minimum size, so that only five of the six lanes can be used. In the plan for a new swimming pool, which was announced in 2019, Hoogeveen will have a full-fledged competition pool with eight lanes and a recreational pool with a slide. A total of 400 square meters of swimming water will be added in a much larger building.

More visitors, more income

It is expected that considerably more people will use the new pool: 204,000, half of whom will be recreational swimmers. This should almost double the income: from 580,000 to more than 1.1 million euros.

Calculations also show that the annual operating costs of a new swimming pool are approximately two thousand euros lower than those of the current swimming pool, despite a larger building with more swimming water and higher energy consumption.

Spring 2024

The PvdA wants the new facility, for which a location must still be found, is high on the municipal investment list. “We would like to have clarity about the costs and location of the new pool in the spring of 2024,” Van Eck concludes.